Last week, Google announced Google’s Search Plus Your World (can we just call it Search Plus?) and the whole internet marketing industry is a buzz. Or so it seems.
We all knew it was coming, so it’s not a big surprise that Google+ is now integrated with search results. Maybe the big surprise is the timing, since G+ still needs a lot more work to be a full-fledged social media hang out.
Not in My World!
All of you should know me as an Internet marketer or SEO. Therefore, I participate on social channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ as time allows (don’t worry Pinterest , I will get to you some day too). I use the channels to promote Vertical Measures and sometimes our clients. I try to keep my personal Facebook page to be just that – personal.
And like many of you, my friends IRL (like my life-long friends) and my family almost never use Twitter or Google+. Which is exactly why I am not all crazed over Search Plus. It just isn’t a factor – yet. In fact, I tried a very simple experiment to make my point.
My Post on Google+
On Tuesday, around 3:00pm MST, I posted the following on my G+ page.
“So today Google made a big announcement right? “Search Plus Your World”
I certainly don’t see any great short term benefits for the vast majority of searchers. First of all, none of my “non internet marketer friends” use G+. Some might be in the 100 million G+ users figure, but they don’t use it. And they certainly are not sharing information that will help me with my searches at all.
Sure I have been voting for some web pages with 1+, and those results might be interesting, but how long do you think it will be before my Google Circles are helping me buy a pair of hiking boots or even my next TV? In fact, now that I think if it, I better get rid of hundreds of people in my circles if they are going to be influencing my search results. Most of them are internet marketers pushing their client’s products — which does not necessarily reflect their true opinions.
Maybe this will have an impact on my searches in a few years, but not today. You agree? Am I missing something totally obvious here? Do I not understand how it will work? Set me straight!”
Now I have about 1300 people in my circles and about 1600 people have “circled” me. I waited about 18 hours and not one person commented or voted for this post.
Twitter and Facebook to the Rescue
My next step was to tweet out just once to see if I could get some interaction on Google+.
As a result of that single tweet, there were finally some comments and interaction on my Google+ post. But even that was only a few people and fizzled within a few hours.
So my next step was to post the exact same text over on Facebook.
I have about 470 friends on Facebook, which is one-third the people in my G+ circles, and as I have mentioned, most of those are my “real” friends and not internet marketers. Yet I had immediate interactions from several people.
So without Twitter and Facebook, I would have had absolutely zero feedback on my Google+/Search Plus rant. I admit I am no Danny Sullivan who would have had dozens and dozens of responses, but I am trying to draw a comparison to the typical person on Google, not Internet marketers.
Search Plus Your World – Not Today, But Eventually
Now I am also the same guy who thought Twitter was stupid and couldn’t see why anyone bothered with Facebook. So I am not going to make the same mistake and tell you Google+ will not matter. It will. And it will in a big way. Eventually.
IMHO Google will not let this fail. Even though the 100 million users (or whatever it is today) is impressive, we all know that the vast majority of those users probably didn’t even know what they were signing up for. Google pushed it on searchers and did so quite effectively. We also know that engagement has dropped off since its launch. At least that’s what we have seen and heard. But Google+ has potential as a social media platform and at a minimum it is a decent voting platform. It certainly is having its impact on search results.
Impact on SEO
Google+ is part of Google’s effort to change how search works, placing an increasing importance on signals from its own social network. All signs point to Google+ being a big part of Google’s plans for affecting how search ranking work. Take a look at almost any blog post with G+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter buttons. Facebook and Twitter generally have a lot more activity than G+ or LinkedIn and I don’t see that changing in the short term – a year or two. However, I am confident there is an imbalance in the weight a G+ vote gets in the algorithm. So now is the time for you and your business to start building your audience on Google+. Learn how it works and begin to form real connections with people who share your interests. (Or ask us about building out your Google+ profile for your organization.)
Backlinks Still Matter
For the last 10 years (basically since Google came to be), links have been the primary way to influence search rankings. No doubt there will be an increased influence from social signals, with a slight preference towards Google+. From both Bing and Google’s view, the rich data set to be found in the social networks are significant indicators of quality and relevance.
I believe this means links will have a slightly less impact on search rankings over time. Backlinks are still going to be the primary signal for quality and relevance if for no other reason than they have a more permanent nature than most social signals. And let’s not forget links to the social content and profiles seem to give those a boost as well. My recommendation is to continue doing what you’re doing with link building, but to also ensure that your content is distributed on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
But Your Content Matters Most
It’s now clear (unless you just can’t pull your head up out of the sand) that high quality, engaging content, posted on a regular basis, is the winning strategy. Search Plus hasn’t changed that. On the contrary it is more important now than ever before.
If you look at the types of content that gain the most popularity on social networks (including blogs), it’s those that have provide the best opportunity for interaction. Engaging content often include photos, videos, links, and longer text in general.
If you understand the content marketing cycle (we created an 8-step process here) and you are implementing it, you are going to be just fine no matter what changes occur in the search engines. The bottom line for consumers is valuable information. If you are providing it and your competitors are not – you win!
I would love to hear your thoughts on Search Plus in our comments below!